Air purifiers in Canada have seen a massive spike in popularity following the COVID-19 pandemic, which highlighted the importance of health and keeping a clean space. However, it isn’t enough to wash your hands and take your vitamins. This cleanliness should also extend to the air you breathe. In fact, studies have shown that you can obtain massive benefits by ensuring that the air in your space, whether it’s an apartment, home, or office, is as pure as can be. Studies have also shown that the opposite is true, unclean air can have negative effects not only on health but on overall productivity and mental abilities. These problems and benefits can all be taken care of with one item: an air purifier.
What is an Air Purifier?
An air purifier is exactly what it sounds like, a machine that sucks in air from a given space, passes it through a filter made of high-quality fibres in order to trap pollutants, toxins, and other particles, and replaces it with fresh air. There are a wide variety of purifiers available on the market today, so how can you be sure that you’re getting the most effective one for your space?
We’ll break down everything you need to know about these beneficial machines and the most important considerations to make when searching for air purifiers in Canada.
The Importance of an Air Purifier for Canadians
Before we go over the top factors that you’ll want to consider when searching for an air purifier in Canada, let’s review just how important it is to invest in one. We’re all striving to be more eco-friendly, energy conscious, and of course, financially wise. However, an air purifier is not only a beneficial luxury but a necessary appliance if you want to ensure optimal health.
These days, we spend most of our time indoors, whether we’re at work or at home (and sometimes they’re one in the same). With modern construction and insulation, AC and heating units, the air we’re breathing in most of the time is most often stale and more polluted than the air outside. Our homes are not filtered out as often as they might otherwise be, and with modern AC/heating units, the air is often filled with the dust and other particles that bounce around the vents of our home and office.
Recent studies done in the US have found the shocking statistic that indoor pollution is 2-5 times more dangerous than the pollution we experience outdoors. Breathing polluted air does more than impact your health, however. It also heavily reduces productivity by impairing focus, critical thinking, and your ability to get a good night’s sleep. This, on top of all we’ve learned following the COVID pandemic, reinforces the importance of having clean, non-polluted air in your home and office.
What to Consider
There are several factors to consider when purchasing air purifiers in Canada. These can be separated into primary and secondary factors to make your decision easier. Additional features that enhance the user experience of your air purifier are also worthy of consideration, while not being necessary for the primary function of the machine.
The primary considerations are:
- Filter type
The secondary considerations are:
- Noise level
- Maintenance costs
- Energy efficiency
- Style and colour
We’ll go over each of these in detail so you know what to look for and how to measure your needs in terms of air purification.
Air Purifier Ratings in Canada
There are several ratings systems designed to measure the functions and effectiveness of air purifiers and their filters. These can be used to gauge whether or not the air purifier you’re looking at is the one that will most effectively meet your needs. While all of these ratings are helpful, the three most important ones include MEV, CADR, and CCM. Don’t worry, these are easier to understand than they may initially seem.
The MERV rating (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values) refers to the filter’s efficiency; meaning, how many particles of a certain size it is able to remove from the air. This rating does not apply to the air purifier in general but to the specific filter it uses.
This scale rates filters from 1-18, with 1 being the least efficient and 18 being the most optimal. Your choice of filter efficiency will depend on what pollutants you’re looking to remove from your space. While ratings of 1-4 are acceptable for removing hair and large dust particles, if you’re looking to tackle bacteria, fine dust, pollen, and other more intense particles, you’ll want to aim for the higher end of the scale.
Why does this matter? It comes down to how filters work. The more particles that a filter can remove, the harder it becomes for the purifier to move air through the filter. More efficiency requires more power, so your MERV rating is going to dictate other decisions you make regarding your air purifier. The goal is to strike a balance between efficiency and power regarding your specific needs.
The CADR was developed by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers to measure the speed at which an air purifier can filter out a given amount of air. Once again, your MERV rating will affect the CADR rating you’re looking for, as a filter that can remove a large amount of particles is going to slow down the overall purifier’s rate of filtration, requiring more power to reach the optimal CADR potential.
CADR ratings are going to be different for each kind of particle entering the filtration system, so the same purifier can have a different CADR rating for pollen as for dust particles. Here again, your decision is going to be based on your specific needs. In general, the higher the CADR rating, the faster your machine can remove particles. A higher rating also means that your purifier can tackle a larger space. If you only need to filter a small area, you can compromise on the CADR rating in favor of other factors. If you need to clean a large area, however, it’s best to pay the extra and go with a higher CADR rated air purifier.
The CADR rating is going to affect your machine’s efficiency within your space. If you choose the wrong CADR for your given area, your purifier will have a harder time filtering out the air. It may even be that your purifier is completely unable to tackle the task at hand. It’s for this reason that the CADR is a primary consideration. It’s best to work out how much space you have and what your minimum CADR requirement is before heading into the market. To help you make the proper choice, the Environmental Protection Agency has put together a helpful guide based on room size.
While this number is an important baseline for your choice of air purifier, it doesn’t give any indication of a machine’s performance over time. For this, you’ll need to check out the purifier’s CCM rating.
Cumulative Clean Mass, or CCM, rates an air purifier’s efficiency over a given period of time. This is the best rating for understanding an air purifier’s long-term performance capabilities. This is, after all, an investment in your health. You’ll want to get the best air purifier for your money, and the CCM is the most accurate way to predict how much you’re really getting out of your investment.
A not-so fun fact, most air purifiers drop in efficiency as much as 75% within the first few months. This underscores the importance of the CCM rating, as you don’t want to look at the MERV or CADR rating and assume those numbers will remain the same as time goes on. By paying attention to the CCM rating, you can identify how long your air purifier will remain at optimum efficiency. This is also a good predictor of the frequency of maintenance that will be required, which connects to the secondary consideration of maintenance cost over time.
In summary, choose a MERV rating that aligns with the kinds of pollutants you need removed from your space, a CADR that correlates to the size of your room, and a CCM that gives you the quality over time for your money.
Choosing Your Perfect Filter
For those seeking the most effective air purifiers in Canada, you have to look at the filter in your machine, not just the machine. Depending on which pollutants you’re looking to remove from your space, your choice of filter is going to change. Most air purifiers come with two kinds of filters, a pre-filter and a main filter. However, the main filter is the one that really matters, as it’ll be doing most of the work to trap pollutants. That being said, there is one area where the pre-filter can play an important role.
The gold standard for all filters are HEPA filters, or High Efficiency Particulate Air filters. These are going to rate in the upper stratas of the MERV scale and are the descendants of the first air filters ever created. While there are air purifiers available that advertise HEPA-type filters, it is best to stick with those that are given the official rating. This way, you can ensure you’re getting the best-possible filtration for your money. There’s no other way to say it, HEPA air purifiers in Canada are going to be the most reliable and effective.
HEPA filters are recommended by the EPA and the American Lung Association. They have been proven to trap up to 99.97% of pollutants ranging from 0.30 or larger. They are almost equally as effective on smaller particles. To put this in perspective, the Human eye is entirely incapable of seeing particles of this size. Dust and pet dander may be annoying, but it’s these microscopic particles that cause real trouble in terms of health and cognitive abilities.
While HEPA filters are the darling of the air purifier world, there is one area where HEPA filters prove inadequate. This is in dealing with gas particles, which are linked to odour filtration. Given that gas leaks are a legitimate concern, and bad odours are a quick way to impair quality of life, it may be wise to invest in a carbon filter. These filters are specially designed to deal with the finer particles that escape the grasp of standard HEPA filters.
The reason for carbon’s special ability has to do with a unique reaction it has when baked. Carbon, when put under enough heat, forms cracks that can trap gas particles. While these ultra-fine particles are small enough to sneak through HEPA filters, they get trapped in the fine cracks formed by carbon.
This is where the pre-filters come in handy. The most effective approach to air filtration would be to invest in an air purifier that uses a HEPA main filter, then install a carbon pre-filter to improve the removal of gas and gas-like particles from your environment. By doing so, you can capitalize on the benefits of both filter types, purifying your air of the full range of particles while preventing odour build-up.
If you’re really looking to make the most of your air purifier, invest in granular activated carbon (GAC) filters. This is the highest-quality carbon and can be used to remove tough odours such as cigar smoke.
Choose Your Optimal Size
While it is the least significant of the primary considerations, the size of your air purifier will have an impact on key aspects of your purifier’s performance.
The first impact has to do with logistics. Perhaps the first question you should ask, even before deciding on the ideal ratings, is this: where are you planning on putting your air purifier? The location of your air purifier is the first and primary consideration that will dictate the ideal size. If it’s going on a desk, you don’t want to purchase a massive air purifier tower. Similarly, if you’re putting it in a large space, you don’t want a small purifier trying to tackle all of that air.
Other implications include the internal aspects of your air purifier. A larger purifier is going to have a larger fan, therefore it will have more power to push air through the filter, improving your CADR rating and allowing you to invest in a more efficient filter.
While these considerations are less important than the above-listed factors, they are far from being superficial. Some of these considerations pertain to effects on your overall atmosphere, and others will dictate your air purifier’s performance. Once you have established a baseline using the primary considerations, you can use the following factors to refine your search for the perfect air purifier in Canada.
Depending on the space in which you’re looking to use your air purifier, you’ll have different preferences for noise. Larger air purifiers are going to have larger fans and motors, and are more likely to produce more noise, though this is not always the case. If you’re using your purifier at home, it may not be terribly inconvenient to have a louder air purifier, if it means it is more effective at cleaning your space. However, if you’re looking to install one in your office, you may prefer a quieter, or even a silent, option. Air purifiers are available that make virtually no noise.
When choosing, keep in mind that the noise your purifier produces can, but will not always, correlate to the power and efficiency of your air purification.
You’ll want to calculate how much a given air purifier is going to cost to maintain over a long period of time. The CCM rating is going to have implications on when and how often you’ll have to pay to maintain your air purifier. You will also want to look at how often you’ll have to replace your filters and how expensive they will be to replace.
As expected, the higher-quality filters are going to cost more to replace, yet, they will also need to be replaced less frequently. Once again, the question of finding the perfect balance is what matters. It is often better to pay more for a high-quality filter and spend less on frequent replacements than it is to go cheap on your filter and replace it more often. Keep in mind that the more expensive filters will do a better job of filtering your air. There’s no point spending money on an air purifier if you’re going to hamper its performance with a sub-par filter.
You will also want to calculate, if only roughly, how much more you’ll be spending on energy costs per month. While smaller, low-powered purifiers will likely have no effect on your bills, you’ll surely notice an uptick in energy costs with their larger cousins. You can calculate this by looking at how much energy is required to run your air purifier across a given hour. Estimate the amount of hours you’ll most likely use your purifier, multiply your energy output by this estimate, and you’ll have a decent idea of how much extra energy you’ll be paying for per month. Weigh your needs against your budget and choose the air purifier that works for you.
Speaking of energy costs, air purifiers are most efficient when they are run consistently. You may think you’re saving money by running them periodically, but the opposite is true. By keeping the air consistently purified, you’ll be lessening the amount of work your purifier has to do and extending its lifespan. You can opt for an Energy-Certified air purifier to ensure that you’re getting the most power for the least output of energy.
Ultimately, this factor has to do with the size of your internal fan and how hard it has to work to push air through the filter. Ultimately, your MERV, CADR, and size choices will make the decision on energy efficiency.
Style, Position, and Power
Finally, you’ll want to choose the air purifier that best fits your interior design. There are a wide range of colours available, from basic black or gray to soft pastels. You can find air purifiers with a tall, tower-like design or a shorter square design that is perfect for desks or side tables. You can even find air purifiers in Canada with patterns or stunning prints such as floral paintings or works of art.
You’ll also want to pay attention to how the design/shape of your purifier fits into your space. A rectangular design is going to easily slot into the corner of a room where it can filter air from the whole space. A rounded design, however, will have to be featured in a different way. While this is a functional object, you don’t want it to feel out of place within your room or office. An air purifier is best when it can blend into the environment.
Consider where in your space you’ll place your air purifier, and whether or not it will need to be near an outlet or if it is battery powered. A majority of air purifiers are going to be corded, but smaller, more compact and portable devices may run on batteries. If you intend to move your purifier around, from room to room, you will want to opt for a lighter weight design that enhances portability.
Once you’ve worked your way down this whole list, you can be safe in assuming you’ve found the perfect air purifier for you. However, there are additional features that some purifier’s come with which, while not necessary, can be nice to have. These features include a filter-replacement indicator light, programmable timer, remote control, and app integration. The most helpful of these is certainly the indicator light, which will ensure that you replace your filter before it starts impairing the air purifier or, even worse, before it releases the trapped gasses and particles back into the air.
Frequently Asked Questions About Air Purifiers in Canada
Air purifiers in Canada can be found at general stores such as Walmart, Canadian Tire, Home Depot or another outlet. However, usually, there will be more selection when ordering online from websites such as Amazon. Shipping will depend on your specific location, the time of year (holidays are going to be busier, so if you’re ordering as a gift, it’s best to order well ahead of time). If you’re looking to get one today, you can easily search for your nearest supplier and visit them during their operating hours.
Depending on the brand, different warranties will apply. Most brands will offer 1-2 year warranties, but you’ll want to check the CCM rating and ensure you’re getting the proper financial protection. The CCM rating compared to the length of the warranty is going to be the best way to tell if the warranty is of a fair length.
Air purifiers can go a long way to alleviate allergy symptoms. They do this by capturing indoor air pollutants like dust, pollen and pet dander through one or more HEPA filters and dispersing clean air back into the room. An air purifier is one of the most effective means of increasing comfort within the home and office, and improving overall quality of life.